Barilla’s 4th annual incubator now open to startups hungry to make an impact

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

The world's largest pasta producer is looking for the next round of cohorts to participate in its Good Food Makers incubator. Pic: Khanisorn Chaokla
The world's largest pasta producer is looking for the next round of cohorts to participate in its Good Food Makers incubator. Pic: Khanisorn Chaokla

Related tags: Barilla, BLU1877, incubator, Good Food Makers, KitchenTown, Startup company, ReGrained

BLU1877 – Barilla’s venture group – is calling for progressive startups to apply for its fourth Good Food Makers global accelerator.

Interested applicants do not have to present ideas dedicated solely around pasta. Although being the world’s largest pasta maker, Barilla also produces a range of baked goods, including bread, crispbreads​ and biscuits​ under household brand names like Wasa, Harrys and Mulino Bianco.

This year, the Good Food Makers programme is keen on rooting out entrepreneurs with ideas that address four specific challenges that reflect the trends, technology, consumer behaviours and values that will shape the future of our food system.

1. Circular economy

Solutions to upcycle three specific side streams, namely, pasta regrind, wheat bran and bread crust.

BLUE1877 is looking for processing technologies to transform these byproducts into ingredients for new uses for Barilla; both food and non-food related tech; along with biotech solutions and materials science applications.

2. Better food delivery

Creative solutions in preparation, delivery logistics, automation, packaging, recipe development and more to deliver high-quality meal experiences – in particular for pasta – through new restaurant and delivery channels. The programme is also looking to embrace new food types – such as plant-based, and ready to (h)eat options – that will provide easy nutrition for families, a quick lunch for solo eaters and a satiating snack for on-the-go.

3. Digital nutrition guides

Virtual platforms that offer transparent, honest and accurate guides on nutrition, well-being and sustainability, such as pasta made with new ingredients, processes or shapes; food preparation technologies; kitchen robotics and automations; and logistics and distribution coordination. The programme is also keen to find ghost kitchens and virtual food halls interested in prototyping new menus or offering new customer experiences.

4. Easy meal routines

Better-for-you meal services, kits or products to fit into a busy eater’s lifestyle without sacrificing on nutrition or sustainability.

Specifically, digital nutrition and wellness coaches; personalised nutrition apps and platforms; digital food shopping assistants; science-backed food ranking apps or websites; tools to identify and warn against digital misinformation; internal data management and transparency systems; or sustainability ranking apps.

Access, plan and innovate

One start-up will be selected for each challenge area and will work directly with a custom-built, dedicated team of Barilla experts for eight weeks to create actionable solutions and implement them in real-time.

The successful applicants will also receive a $10,000 grant to use during the programme to advance its solution.

Deadline for the call for entries​ is August 2021. The programme kicks off in September and will take place virtually, with the possibility for in-person collaboration depending on the location of teams and current COVID-19 public health regulations.

Real time, hands-on co-development programme

“What makes Good Food Makers unique from other accelerators is that it is a real co-development programme, meaning it helps our internal teams solve challenges and also fuels the start-ups’ growth by providing access to our best-in-class expertise from around the world,”​ said Michela Petronio, VP of BLU1877.

“One of the bright spots of the past year has been the flood of food innovators, and we can’t wait to unlock new talents and technologies while fostering a more resilient food system.” 

The incubator was launched by BLUE1877 in 2018 in collaboration with KitchenTown, a San Francisco based incubator that gives disruptive startups access to a commercial kitchen, product innovation lab, direct-to-consumer warehouse, brand partnerships and a thriving community of makers.

“As an incubator, we have watched entrepreneurs first-hand pivot their struggles into creative ideas that now need some nurturing and resources to become scalable businesses,”​ said KitchenTown’s CEO Rusty Schwartz.

“Good Food Makers is the perfect programme for those hungry to make an impact, and for a company like Barilla to gain fresh insights and energy.” 

Among the cohorts nurtured by the incubator since its inauguration in 2018 are ReGrained,​ the disruptive producer of upcycled snacks; The Organic Pantry Co, touted to be setting the gold standard of healthy snacks; and Planetarians, which is creating the next platform of alt. meat.

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